It had occurred long enough ago that you had considered the surgery a complete success. No one suspected, there was no shadow of your previous form; even you believed in the revisions of your past. Until tonight, there was no sign of remission.
It is a revelation with which you are uneasy. For all your brilliance, you cannot imagine a method for a more permanent excision.
You had devised the importance of such a surgery at the same time you obtained other skills, useful to your life and craft (not, of course, that there is a difference between the two), skills saved with backup files secure on your hard drive. The arts of mimicking emotion, of disguise, of ignoring the needs of your faulty body--you have needed these, case after case, and you cannot remember a time when you have not practiced them.
Playing the dutiful daughter, for example. It was a game you had resented, but perfected. You had been the desired one; Mycroft an initial attempt, your mother had always wanted a daughter. In a family of matriarchs, your mother and grandmothers were endlessly doting.
Logical, strong-willed, brilliant, you were perfect as what you were not. A testament to your sex, they thought, and you were encouraged in everything. Bunsen burner for your seventh birthday, cow heart for your eighth; your parents drove you between pool and police station without complaint. There was little you could not do, you rarely felt the constraints of society and grew to believe--unlike Mycroft--that they were simply not applicable to you.
Although you know there are multiple faults and extensive researcher bias involved in such studies, current medical texts state that gender identity is formed by the age of three. Phenomenological studies indicate that mothers, when informed of the apparent sex of their infant in utero, form detailed imaginings regarding their offspring's future which are inherently sex-specific. You have no recollection of when you first became aware of your gender, but you do remember telling your mother.
You do recall her reactions, predictable as they were, given you had killed that illusory daughter.
When you were ten, you brought it up the first time. You spoke to her again at fifteen, and once more--the final time--at twenty. A startlingly precise trend; very much unintentional.
Five years was simply long enough to begin forgetting your mother's disappointment, her efforts to reason you into a woman.
It is not the nineteenth century. You are quite capable of achieving anything you wish as a woman. You are merely giving in to the notions of a patriarchal society, believing your intelligence and rationality incompatible with a female body. Transition means hormones that may alter your reason and destroy your organs, it means half-witted therapists and psychologists who will medicate your supposedly-pathological mind into docility. You are too beautiful, too graceful, too quick-witted to be male.
You are her daughter, and she loved you.
You did your best to accept her logic. It was not easy, filing gender away with other unimportant matters: celebrity gossip, heads of state, astronomy. Still, it was a somewhat manageable solution at ten.
By twenty, ignoring the stark reality of your body was an impossibility.
There are three coping mechanisms that are statistically over-employed by those who are unable to transition. Though you learned the part of dutiful daughter well, and though you felt you were quite capable of diverting your energy to matters far less boring than your own body, those ten years had you practicing all three.
When you were twelve, you discovered one of the most accessible body modifications. No one--certainly not your mother--was clever enough to connect self-imposed starvation with your earlier admission. If anything, you knew anorexia was expected of you as an adolescent female. Daughter of overbearing parents, your neighbours whispered, just look how the boy always stuffs himself for attention. You were constantly restraining yourself from correcting them.
There are two of us, you had wanted to say. And Mycroft just lacks restraint.
Hunger kept your mind sharp, digestion a mere draw of blood away from your cerebral tissues. And your body remained lean, sexless. Though you had anticipated the onset of menses within that year, your actions successfully delayed such a distasteful function. While your mother was mortified--believing again that you had given in to social demands regarding gender norms, such little faith--you would have continued with it for years.
Mycroft, as he always did, saw it his duty to meddle. "Like it or not, eleven to thirteen are peak growth years," he had said. "Stunting your growth is so unwise, don't you think?"
You had commented that he ought to be a giant, then, the way he ate at your age; but all the same you conducted the research and began reevaluating your diet. Mycroft was nineteen, full of himself and beginning to make connections, and you were irritated but not surprised when you received a package containing growth hormones weeks later. How he got a hold of them at that age remains a mystery; they are not inexpensive.
You refused to ask.
Growth hormones do nothing to prevent the rest, however: the onset of menses, the steady development of breasts, the nearly undisguisable distribution of what fat remained on your body. You were disgusted, and by sixteen you had found a rather obvious way to deal with it.
At sixteen, you were widely regarded as not only the most intelligent girl in your class, but also the most beautiful. Naturally, no one dared approach you. Untouchable, they said, cruel and made of ice; it suited you well. You used your looks when you could. It was a convenient enough tool at police stations, an easy entry to crime scenes and labs.
It was revolting.
Your mind rebelled against it, and endlessly you thought two things: every criminal in England would know you as that freakish woman, and it was improbable that matters would ever get any better. You would continue to be a disappointment to your mother, your body would remain an intolerable shell, you would never find the means to transition and even if you did surely it would not take completely.
All the world would continue to perceive you as wholly female, a wave of erroneous pronouns constantly at your back. You told yourself it did not matter how others conceived of you.
Their stupidity was simply so complete as to be unlivable.
You calculated precise dosages, estimated how many of your relations were on sedating medications, gauged their observation skills against the frequency of their visits to the chemist.
By November, you had collected the exact amount required for the procedure. You do not know what had compelled you to do so, but you had waited through the winter holidays, suffering Mycroft gloating around the halls. Your parents boasted about you as ever. You had just solved another minor problem for a local official; all very dull.
Overdosing is one of the more obvious methods of suicide, but considering you only had the means for cyanide poisoning at hand--miserable way to go, easy antidote--and you found bleeding out needlessly dramatic and untidy, you had to make do with obvious. You forwent the notes and carefully disguised the more well-known cues of suicidality, working and studying up until the decided-upon date of January tenth.
No theatrics, you had decided, no brooding or second thoughts. You simply took the pills.
And when you woke up twenty-two hours later, you were furious.
You tore the room apart. Mostly out of anger, you realize now--you had destroyed the calculations months ago, all the medication was gone. You had been meticulous.
The discovery of a solitary capsule under your bed had made you immediately suspicious--your memory had been somewhat imperfect, for the remaining opioids in your system. But you were certain you had ingested the complete dose. When you brought the pill to the lab the following week, you were unsurprised at the analysis.
Trace amounts of the original drug, flour, faint marks under microscope where the capsule had been pried apart.
You dismissed the option of another attempt immediately and destroyed the evidence. Matters were embarrassing enough as they stood.
He enjoyed thwarting you far too much.
The next two years passed. Despite your irritation, you followed advice to spend those years on research. Quiet labs, reading old cases, strengthening your familiarity with foreign criminal organizations and participating in online stings. You were not stagnating, yet daily you felt as if your mind would tear itself apart.
One day you discovered a method to prevent this.
Alcohol was too messy, dulled the wits. Pot had been worthy of experimentation during your more idle days, but hardly conductive to your more delicate chemical studies and made you tend toward introspection.
When you discovered it at eighteen, you wondered why you had not used cocaine before. You could stay up longer, take on more complex experiments, your body was all the more immaterial. You felt completely in control at last. Mycroft was twenty-five and already an indispensable tool of the government; Mummy had not spoken to him in years, upset at his part in the system. You agreed with her, and rarely contacted him yourself. You were still the perfect child then, short hair and bound chest seen as practical to labwork, as a commentary on society.
You stayed up for weeks, completed four monographs. Your mother loaned you money; the cost of living increasing monthly.
One day you found yourself selling your centrifuge, microscope, and rotary evaporator system.
It was then that you decided that you could not suffer Mycroft's interference again.
Weaning yourself is an ongoing process. It did help, however, that you had found that purchasing testosterone without a prescription is--should one have the proper connections--far more fiscally reasonable than cocaine. It also had been helpful that your mother had become accustomed to your preference for email and text messages, and seemed to scarcely notice when you ceased calling her one day, nine weeks after you began injecting. You filed to update your name, changed schools, moved. No one seemed to notice, by eighteen they were well-used to what they called your "moods." Seven months in, your trials had shown you were perceived as male with a ninety-eight percent accuracy rate.
Twenty years old. You visited your mother for the last time. The next day, there was a third killing involving succinylcholine in Islington, and your assistance had clearly been required.
The papers had been more simple than expected to process, and when you later conducted a search, there was no official records of a female child within the Holmes family. No students transferred with you. There was a sudden scandal in the Met, oddly timed, and many of the officers you worked with in your youth were transferred or dismissed. Only a few were still present, those who were either so single-minded on work as to be indifferent, who had personal experience in the matter, or who were disturbingly decent. Some--like that idiot Lestrade, who you later learned was guilty of all three traits--had even been promoted.
Ignoring the evidence is one of the worst crimes a man can commit; nevertheless, to this day, you prefer to attribute the ease of your social transition to mere chance.
Your life has been reasonable since, barring those periods of time when the worlds' criminals appear to be on holiday. You think of your mother little, your brother is an annoyance you find yourself required to engage with on an occasional basis. You reconstruct your life to be ideal--no attachments, your closest friends are your enemies and Lestrade's aversion to creative thought.
You have no need for a heart. You have your work. Friendships are mere petty talk and niceties you have long-since deleted from your hard drive, and you are hardly likely to engage in a romantic relationship. Even should someone be flattered by reason--abysmally rare--there is your unexpected body, your disinterest in physicality. You had read, years ago, that injecting testosterone would increase your interest in such matters.
For all positive real values of x, zero raised to the power of x remains zero.
Your work, you remind yourself, is enough.
You could have done worse in a flatmate than John Watson. He has shown his usefulness and relative intelligence, and you have grown used to him. Sometimes you have considered acting upon the feelings--obvious, even to you--present between you and he. Sometimes you have considered telling him you did not emerge fully formed into this world, complete as you are.
It would not be a logical action. Tempting, but absurd. What you have--a colleague at arm's length, available but not overbearing; respect for your brilliance, your talent, your cold rationality; an unquestioning knowledge of your masculinity--is enough. It is not worth losing, simply for a remote possibility of intimacy, an intimacy that will almost certainly invalidate you. A degree of intimacy that would be insufficient to any partner.
Sealing yourself off was a necessity, you remind yourself. Burning the remains of your heart would be welcome. Closing off every tenuous connection to society was never a mistake.
You could have done worse than John Watson, but nearly three decades of data remains irrefutable. Even given an interest in such distractions--even granting John Watson would accept such distractions--you can never deny your findings.
You know you lost your right to such intimacy, long ago. It is something untenable, unreasonable; a right forfeited, merely by the unfortunate circumstance of your birth.
'Years ago, I had removed my heart from its matrix, and carefully cemented the hollow chamber where it had pulsed. It was an empty room, a lonely room untended, with never a visitor. I inspected it regularly; there was no entrance possible.' --Samuel Steward